PREVIEW: 2019 NTT IndyCar Series – Texas

by Jordan Groves

The NTT IndyCar Series is back in action for the third weekend in a row this Saturday. The 2019 DXC Technology 600 at Texas Motor Speedway is the first night race of the season and the second time that the championship will hit an oval this year. Here is everything you need to know ahead of this weekend’s race on the high banks of the lone star state.

What happened in 2018 at Texas Motor Speedway?

Qualifying for last year’s race at Texas Motor Speedway was utterly dominated by Team Penske. The three Penskes would steal all of the top three positions, with Josef Newgarden leading Simon Pagenaud and Will Power. All three would be separated by just over one-tenth of a second. What was more impressive, was that the Penske trio had a two-tenth advantage over the rest of the field.

The fourth-place qualifier, Robert Wickens, had great pace at the start of the race, quickly passing the three Penske drivers to take the lead. However, it was Scott Dixon that quickly emerged as a threat for the win. After starting seventh, Dixon slowly picked off driver after driver to work his way into the lead.

From there, despite a number of cautions bunching the field back together, no one would really take the challenge to Dixon. The Chip Ganassi Racing driver led 119-laps on his way to taking the race win, his second of the season and his third at Texas Motor Speedway. The win would also help him assume the championship lead.

Simon Pagenaud and Alexander Rossi would take the podium spots. Pole-sitter Josef Newgarden fell out of contention after earning himself a penalty for jumping a race restart. Similarly, Will Power would be written out of the fight for the race lead after being involved in a collision with Zachary Claman De Melo.

After leading the way in the early stages, Robert Wickens would fail to finish the race after colliding with Ed Carpenter, who was a lap down at the time of the crash. Carpenter would take the blame for the crash post-race, with Wickens criticising Carpenter and other lapped drivers as being “desperate” to get back onto the lead-lap by racing the race leaders.

You can read the full race reports from last year’s DXC Technology 600 by following the link below: 

Credit: Chris Owens / Courtesy of IndyCar

What should I look out for this weekend?

The man entering the race weekend at Texas Motor Speedway with the most momentum will most likely be Ganassi’s, Scott Dixon. The New Zealander took his first win of the year last time out at the Detroit Grand Prix, bouncing back from a retirement in the first race of the weekend on Saturday to stand on the top step of the podium after Sunday’s second race.

Dixon entering with momentum for this race, in particular, is a dangerous thing for the rest of the competition. Scott has already taken three wins on the high banks of Texas Motor Speedway in his career, so there is every chance that he could add a fourth win this weekend. A win would be a great shot in the arm for Scott’s championship hopes too, as he currently sits fifty-two points off of championship-leader Josef Newgarden.

Speaking of Newgarden, the 2017 series champion and his Penske team-mates will undoubtedly be ones to watch this weekend. In particular, Simon Pagenaud will come into the race as the most recent oval race-winner after having taken his memorable Indianapolis 500 win a few weeks ago. After finishing on the podium in Texas last year, it will be interesting to see if Simon’s Indianapolis triumph will help his oval abilities any further.

Of course, the man that Pagenaud fought for the victory with back in Indianapolis was Andretti Autosport‘s, Alexander Rossi. Alexander once again put on a hell of a show back at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, pulling off some breathtaking passes en-route to second-place in the race. He now trails championship-leader Josef Newgarden by fifteen points and will be hoping to take victory this weekend to further close the gap to the top of the table.

Another driver who showed great speed at the last oval race was rookie Santino Ferrucci. Despite having never taken part in an oval race prior to Indianapolis, the Dale Coyne Racing driver seemed to take to the challenge like a duck to water. Of course, Texas drives totally differently than Indianapolis, so it will be interesting to see if Santino can adapt to the challenge.

Finally, keep an eye on the #59 Carlin Chevrolet this weekend. The car will be driven by Conor Daly this weekend after it was announced that the team’s usual driver, Max Chilton, will be stepping away from oval racing for the rest of the season.

Daly took part in the Indy 500 a few weeks ago, racing in a one-off entry for Andretti Autosport and showed great pace throughout the month of May to take a tenth place finish in the race. If Daly can get to grips with his new surroundings at Carlin and, providing the car is fast, he could be interesting to watch throughout the race.

What is the schedule for the weekend?

Thursday 6 June

20:00 ET / 13:00 GMT – Practice one

Friday 7 June

15:00 ET / 20:00 GMT – Practice two
18:30 ET / 23:30 GMT – Qualifying

Saturday 8 June

20:00 ET / 13:00 GMT – Race

Where can I watch the 2018 DXC Technology 600?

Tickets are still available for this weekend’s race. Head to the Texas Motor Speedway website for more information.

As a part of the IndyCar’s UK coverage deal, both qualifying and the race will be broadcasted live on Sky Sports F1.

In the United States, television coverage for the DXC Technology 600 will be shown on NBC Sports.

Further coverage of practice and qualifying will be provided in the United States by NBC Sports Gold.

How can I keep up to date with all the race action?

If you cannot make it to Texas for this weekend’s race, you can keep up to date with all the action across the weekend right here at The Checkered Flag. We will have coverage of this weekend’s practice, qualifying and race sessions.

Be sure to also follow IndyCar on Twitter – @IndyCar – for live updates throughout the event.

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